The most general approach to the subject of “soldiers and women” is taken by contemporary studies such as Enloe’s Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives (2000), summarizing a large amount of recent studies. The military “militarizes” women, seeking to control or influence them for its own institutional ends. Naturally the contemporary phenomenon is much better attested quantitatively than its parallel in antiquity; we do not have collections of personal histories of soldiers’ women in their own words, let alone those of prostitutes.1 But the ancient Roman militarization of women also seems to have been different in quality; it shows the limitations of ancient society.
How much did the Roman army attempt to regulate or normalize the soldiers’ unions?2 Since Roman marriage did not require formal ceremony and registration, there was no way to officially regulate the formation of the unions. This contrasts with seventeenth-, eighteenthand nineteenth-century Western European society in which marriage required a church or civil ceremony, the publication of banns and official registration of the marriage. In the modern European armies that permitted marriage to a small percent (under ten percent) of soldiers, the soldier required official permission to marry: he received a certificate which he took to the parish priest; the priest or authorities in charge of the civil ceremony presumably could refuse to perform an illegitimate marriage. But because of the informality of Roman marriage, the Roman authorities could only interfere with a soldier’s union long after it had been contracted, and then only denied the effects of legitimate marriage.
1 As in Sturdevant and Stoltzfus (1993).
2 Whether a full Foucauldian reading of the marriage policy (as opposed to the
partial, cultural treatment in Chapter Twelve) is possible, depends on this question.
Foucault (1978) depicts the social control of sexuality in as a development of the
nineteenth century; the marriage policy of the Victorian army in Britain (Trustram
1984) fits this development.